As a second seed with a 6-2 league mark, Gilman was hardly a surprise finalist in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference team golf championship.
The Greyhounds' opponent, though, was not supposed to be fourth-seeded Calvert Hall (5-2-1), which was making a rare final-round appearance after upsetting the team Gilman coach Don Rogers calls "the big dogs," top-seeded Mount St. Joseph, 14-7, in a semifinal. The Cardinals dispatched McDonogh, 12 1/2-8 1/2 in a quarterfinal.
Calvert Hall stayed red-hot in cool conditions at Caves Valley on Saturday afternoon, beating Gilman, 12 1/2-8 1/2 for the program's first title since 1999 and the first for coach Drew Forrester.
"It's really a special group of kids," Forrester said. "They came together at just the right time. I used a lot of Ravens' analogies to tell them that we could do this."
Of course it took a monumental upset of St. Joe to put the Cardinals in position to win it all.
"They were the favorite," Rogers said about the Gaels, even though Gilman beat them, 14 1/2-6 1/2, during the regular season. "They had the individual champion (David Long) and bunch of other very good players."
Gilman, which enjoyed a first-round bye, also topped the Cardinals, 13-8, in the regular season. The Greyhounds' setbacks during the season were to Loyola Blakefield and a Spalding team it defeated in the semifinal round.
"We were playing particularly well at the time," Rogers said about beating Calvert Hall, noting his team had just played a match at Eagle's Nest before meeting the Cardinals there.
Calvert Hall and Gilman were tied after six holes on Saturday when the Cardinals made a winning move.
Jake Hormes sunk a 20-foot birdie putt and fellow senior Nick Smearman parred the same 17th hole to give Calvert Hall the lead for good.
When Cardinal junior Grant Burton won his last two holes to go up by 2 1/2, the deal was just about done.
"I could sense the kids were nervous in the beginning," Forrester said. "There were about 100 people out their watching, so I kind of talked to them a little bit. But after that, I sensed they weren't nervous any more and I just kind of got out of their way. They knew what they needed to do and they knew how to handle it."
With juniors Will Rosenfield and Kevin Devine, seniors Trevor Davis and John Emmett, sophomore Edward Owen and freshman Charles Young, the Greyhounds were a formidable opponent searching for their first crown in six years.
"Our original goal was just to get to Caves," Rogers said before the match. "Now we have re-established our goals. We don't want to just be knocking on the door, we want to kick the door down."
Upstart Calvert Hall, though, would not cooperate.
"I spent a lot of time telling the kids how good they are," Forrester said. "And I think they started to believe."
Trailing, 3 1/2-2 1/2 against St. Joe in the semifinal shocker, Forrester kept feeding the Cardinals good news.
"The longer it went, I said, 'Holy cow, we can actually pull this thing off,'" he said. "There's no shame at all in saying it was an upset, because that's what it was."
The coach mixed and matched six of his eight players during the season. Only seniors Jimmy Grem and Smearman were locks to start. Seniors Ryan Howard, Ben Capone and Hormes, juniors Burton and Matt Muddiman and sophomore Paul Schwing were the other Cardinals' contributors.
"I told the kids to just go there and enjoy it," Forrester said before the finale. "Of course we want to win. But these kids are already winners, and so are the Gilman kids."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun